Adulthood Rites and Imago (Xenogenesis Two and Three)

Adulthood Rites
Octavia E. Butler, 1988, 1989

Premise: The second and third book of the series variously called “Lilith's Brood” or “Xenogenesis”. These volumes concern the continuing intertwining of the remnants of Humanity and the alien species called the Oankali. Adulthood Rites follows Akin, Lilith's first son, and Imago follows Jodahs, one of her later children.

I really enjoyed these two books, although I didn't connect to the characters as much as I did with the first one, Dawn (review here).

This trilogy might be best understood as a sort of triptych. While the larger plot moves forward under the story of each book, each book has a different main character, and each character brings a new perspective on Human/Oankali relations.

Both Adulthood Rites and Imago deal largely with the unexpected results of the genetic blending; what it means for both races and how they can move on from where they stand. There's a dark undercurrent throughout in the contrast between the alien mentalities of the narrators and my human perspective as a reader. The moral quandaries and the slight thread of dystopia make a nice counterpoint to the aliens who on the surface fix the planet, heal the people, seem to love the people... as much as they can. They are moral, but their morals are not necessarily our morals. But are our morals actually any better?

This is a fascinating series, in which no perspective is without basis or without bias. It's tremendously thought provoking.

4 Stars - A Really Good Book 


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